Title: Paris A to Z (Coda #5))
Author: Marie Sexton
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novella (106 pages; word count unlisted)
Rating: 5+ out of 5 stars, DIK
A guest review by Buda
Summary Review: Possibly the last installment in the series has all three of the couples together in a hilarious and heartrending book that might have been subtitled The Guys Grow Up.
Zach Mitchell and his lover Angelo Green are headed to Paris (along with their Coda friends Matt and Jared) to attend Jon and Cole’s wedding. Matt will have to face Jared’s former lover, and Angelo will have to spend an entire week with Zach’s ex-boyfriend.
Between Matt’s jealousy and Angelo’s temper, Zach thinks they’ll be lucky to get through the week without one of the grooms being punched. But Zach soon realizes he should worry less about Angelo and more about himself. Facing the bittersweet memories of his past and his own guilt over breaking Jon’s heart is harder than expected, but Zach will have to find a way to leave his past behind if he’s to have any hope of the future he wants with Angelo.
The Coda-based couples, Matt & Jared and Angelo & Zach, are treated to an all-expenses paid trip to Paris to attend Cole & Jonathan’s wedding. Those of you who have read the series (and if you haven’t, you really should) can already guess what sort of madness and mayhem putting all six of these guys in close quarters could create. Matt cannot stand the thought of Cole, much less being in the same room with him. Zach has enormous guilt over the way his relationship with Jonathan ended a decade ago. Angelo has already had a bad experience with Jonathan (including punching him in Vegas). Did I mention the wedding takes place on Super Bowl Sunday and Matt’s Kansas City Chiefs are playing?
The scene in which Cole calls at some ungodly hour of the morning to invite the Coda boys to the wedding is utterly delicious and starts the whole crazy ball rolling. It is vintage Matt & Cole. Here’s a snippet to whet your appetite:
I should really learn to trust my instincts.
“Well hello, lovey. How are you this morning?”
The voice was light. Feminine. Mocking. And just hearing it caused my hackles to rise.
Of course it was Cole.
“I’m fine,” I said through clenched teeth.
“I’m so glad to hear that, sweetie.”
“My name is Matt.”
“I know. Is Jared available?”
The book alternates between Zach and Matt’s first-person points of view, with the majority of the story told by Zach. Within this slim volume is a tremendous amount of character growth. Matt has to learn to deal with his jealousy of Cole. Zach has to release the guilt he’s been carrying about Jonathan. Angelo has grown so much from the fragile, even broken, young man we met in A to Z. The attention to the details of each individual relationship (romantic and not) is brilliantly and beautifully done. Each of the couples has their own special phrases, gestures and quirks that are uniquely theirs. Each is remembered and celebrated here, from Matt tugging on Jared’s curls to Angelo’s need for private space in his own bedroom to Cole’s defensive affectations. In the hands of a less talented writer, this could feel forced or hokey. Here, these special phrases and gestures are a genuine expressive extension of each man’s love for his partner.
Paris A to Z is the sixth and probably last installment in the Coda series, which means this is the last we’ll see of Matt & Jared and Zach & Angelo. There is a fleeting promise of a possibility for more Cole & Jonathan (you’ll have to see if your Scooby-senses are strong enough to sniff it out). When I asked Marie Sexton about it, she said that while she hopes to write it eventually, she has no plans at the moment. About half way through the first reading, I realized the bittersweet feeling I was experiencing was me preparing to say goodbye to these old friends. What I’m trying to say is this: give yourself a few uninterrupted hours with these six remarkable men and savor the experience–but make sure you have enough Kleenex.